The 32nd annual Space Symposium was recently held at the historic Broadmoor in Colorado Springs. New capabilities and markets are opening in the commercial space and there is renewed focus in the civil market – driving science and exploration to new heights. To achieve these lofty aims, there are new technologies being brought to bear – decreasing cost and increasing utility in the industry. 3D printing is one of the technologies supporting this period of aggressive innovation in aerospace. This is the second consecutive year that Stratasys has been invited by United Launch Alliance (ULA) to participate in their exhibit, and is also the first appearance for a Stratasys booth. In the year since the last Space Symposium, Stratasys has had the opportunity to highlight how ULA has adopted Stratasys FDM 3D printing solutions and ULTEM 9085 material in some very innovative ways.

Stratasys at 32nd Annual Space Symposium

Dual presence with a Fortus 250 printing rocket models in the ULA booth, and a Fortus 450mc 3D Printer printing a light-weight camera mount in the Stratasys booth.

Last year, ULA discussed how they undertook flight-qualifying 3D printed thermoplastic parts, and the millions of dollars they would save from consolidating parts and replacing aluminum with plastic. Flight qualification led to flight hardware on March 23rd of this year, when the Atlas V OA-6 launch carried the first serial production 3D printed thermoplastic parts on a launch vehicle.ULA continues to lead the way in widespread adoption of 3D printing throughout their manufacturing process and on their current and future launch vehicles.

Stratasys at 32nd Annual Space Symposium

ESD PEKK material on display – a 3D printed demonstration avionics enclosure, and NASA’s ICESat-2 flight parts.

With the growing ability of 3D printing to bring significant advantages to the space industry through cost-effective, low-volume production, and lighter, more complex parts, we’ll certainly continue to see more 3D printing firsts in space. And Stratasys will continue to lead the way in supporting the space industry in its most innovative pursuits – with an eye to the future and a meaningful industrial impact today.

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